- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
- The UK foreign secretary accuses Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan of “endangering” the UK-US relationship by opposing a Donald Trump state visit.
- Boris Johnson criticised the Labour leader and “puffed up pompous popinjay” London mayor in a tweet on Friday.
- Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson refuses to comment on Johnson’s outburst.
LONDON – Boris Johnson has criticised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan for deterring Donald Trump from visiting Britain and putting the UK-US relationship “at risk” in a tweet on Friday.
The UK foreign secretary took aim at Corbyn and Khan for opposing the US President’s planned state visit to Britain.
Johnson, a former mayor of London, described his successor Khan as a “puffed up pompous popinjay” and said relations between Westminster and Washington were being “endangered” by the pair.
The US is the biggest single investor in the UK – yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk. We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 12, 2018
Johnson’s comments were in reponse to Khan, who told the Evening Standard on Friday that Trump’s visit would have been met by huge protests.
He said: “It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance.
He added: “His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests. This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place.”
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May initially refused to comment on Johnson’s tweets. However, Downing Street later suggested that Johnson was speaking in a personal capacity and not as foreign secretary.
The US President had been due to open the new American embassy in London in February, but pulled out because he was “unhappy about the arrangements and scale of the visit,” according to a report by The Daily Mail.
Trump confirmed that he had cancelled the visit in a tweet sent late on Thursday, but said it was due to his displeasure over the location of the new embassy.
“Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” he wrote.
However, the decision to sell the former American embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square was actually taken in 2008, prior to Obama becoming president and was reportedly driven by security concerns.
A spokesperson for the prime minister said on Friday morning that the decision to cancel Trump’s visit was “a matter for the US.”
“An invitation has been extended and accepted [for Trump’s visit]” a spokesperson said at a briefing attended by Business Insider.
“The opening of the US Embassy is a matter for the US. The US is one of our oldest and valued allies and our strong and deep partnership will endure.”
They added that “no date was confirmed for any visit. There was a lot of speculation”
Trump’s description of the embassy’s new South London site as “off location,” also drew a response from Downing Street, with the spokesperson saying that “Vauxhall is a vibrant and important part of London and home to many businesses. Apple are moving their headquarters there.”
Boris’s undiplomatic relations
Johnson’s intervention comes despite his own record of undiplomatic comments about US politicians.
In 2016, while London mayor, Boris accused the then US president Barack Obama of having a “part-Kenyan… ancestral dislike” for the UK.
He has also previously referred to former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as a “sadistic nurse”.
And when Trump made comments in 2016 suggesting parts of London had become no-go zones, then London Mayor Johnson lashed out at Trump saying the billionaire would put him off visiting parts of New York.
“Donald Trump’s ill-informed comments are complete and utter nonsense,” Johnson said.
He added: “Crime has been falling steadily in both London and New York – and the only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”
Majority of Brits oppose Trump visit
Any visit by Trump to the UK seems certain to be met with huge protests, with 55% of Brits in one poll calling for his planned state visit to be cancelled. In late 2017 he embroiled himself in an unprecedented spat with British Prime Minister Theresa May, attacking her over terrorism in the UK after he retweeted videos shared by a far-right anti-Muslim extremist from Britain – sparking universal condemnation from British politicians.
After his election, Theresa May invited Trump to the United Kingdom for an official “state visit,” but he has yet to take her up on the offer.